The Justice and Reform Plan includes sections on ending mass incarceration, strengthening oversight and accountability, addressing systemic racial bias, and healing the relationship between the public and the police
KINGSTON, N.Y. – County Executive Pat Ryan announced the final report from the Ulster County Justice and Reform Commission is completed and ready for review and adoption by the Ulster County Legislature. The Commission, convened by County Executive Ryan back in June, has held three public Town Halls and has collected hundreds of comments from the community on how to create reforms to reshape and reimagine our criminal justice system in Ulster County. In Governor Cuomo’s recent State of the State address, he noted the lengths that Ulster County has gone to engage the public in this process, using it as a model for other communities to follow.
“At every level of government we must commit to meaningful, systemic reform and ensure that we provide equal justice for all of our residents,” County Executive Pat Ryan said. “I want to thank our Justice and Reform Commission for their hard work, dedication, and for providing a voice for so many in our community who have marched, written letters, and demanded reforms.”=
The Justice and Reform Plan includes sections on ending mass incarceration, strengthening oversight and accountability, addressing systemic racial bias, and healing the relationship between the public and the police. Suggestions range from reducing the staff and population at the Ulster County Jail to the establishment of Regional Community Advisory Boards on policing.
“Transforming the criminal justice system will ensure that all persons regardless of race, gender or economic status are treated fairly and humanely,” Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa said. “I thank my fellow commission members for the difficult discussions and the hard work we have in front of us. I look forward to engaging with our community to sustain this process.”
“As the District Attorney in Ulster County, I have been working to reform our criminal justice system and implement Restorative Justice through my office,” Ulster County District Attorney Dave Clegg said. “It was a pleasure to have so many community members engage with this process so that we can make sure that our future reforms and policies are aligned with our community’s vision. I commend the County Executive and the Sheriff for their leadership in this process and look forward to continuing to partner with them and the community to continue this great work.”
“Criminal justice reform is an ongoing process, and this plan marks an important step,” Ulster County Legislator Eve Walter said. “As there is certainly much more to do and I look forward to continued partnership between the legislature and the executive office toward realizing a system where all are treated equitably.”
“Citizen Action applauds the commission for including our voices and that of the community in the writing of the Justice and Reform Plan for Ulster County,” Citizen Action Community Representative Maggie Veve said. “While we still have more work to do on police accountability and transforming the system, it is encouraging to see us take steps towards implementing restorative justice practices, social workers responding to mental health crises, and using data to increase transparency. These are all issues that Citizen Action promotes across the state and we are glad to see them incorporated in Ulster County. We look forward to continuing to engage with the County Executive, Sheriff and the community as we reimagine what safety looks like for Ulster County.”
The commission was created in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 which declared that every municipality with a police agency must perform a comprehensive review of current police force practices. To comply with this Executive order Ulster County must pass a resolution to adopt the Justice and Reform Plan by April 1st and submit it to the state budget office. This plan will be presented at the Ulster County Legislature’s Law Enforcement and Public Safety Committee on February 3rd and is anticipated to be on the March legislative meeting agenda.